Trail hunting suspended on New Forest Crown lands amid police investigation

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trail hunting new forest
The New Forest Boxing Day hunt had already been cancelled due to the pandemic (picture: Sally Fear)

TRAIL hunting has been temporarily suspended on New Forest Crown lands after a national hunting row sparked a police investigation.

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Forestry England confirmed it had followed the National Trust’s decision to stop trail hunting on land it owns, for the time being.

“We have suspended all trail hunting licences on land managed by Forestry England, including the Crown lands of the New Forest,” an FE spokeswoman told the A&T.

“This affects local groups that may have previously had permission for trail hunting. The suspension will remain in place until Forestry England has enough new information to review the situation.”

It has come after complaints were made to the police by anti-hunt activists about the content of webinars on trail hunting hosted by the Hunting Office, the sport’s governing body.

Trail hunting involves laying a scent for hounds to follow. Hunts maintain they follow the letter of the law but accidents happen, such as when dogs follow a fake trail but find a real fox instead – which is not illegal.

It has been confirmed webinar footage is being reviewed by the Crown Prosecution Service, a development welcomed by the League Against Cruel Sports.

The Hunting Office told the A&T only one pack had been granted a licence this season by the National Trust, while “a small number of hunts” met on Forestry England land so the majority of 200 trail hunts “won’t be impacted” by the suspension.

In respect of the webinars, the Hunting Office pledged to “co-operate fully” with police, adding: “The purpose of the webinars held in August was very clearly to facilitate legal hunting, and any allegation that they were organised for any other purpose is completely incorrect.”

The temporary ban does not affect the Boxing Day hunt in New Forest since it has already been cancelled due to the pandemic.

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